Posts Tagged ‘homegrown’

Pineapple Express

August 10, 2009

There are clear indicators that a girl has reached a certain threshold of food fanaticism: the number of conversations that include terms like ‘zest’ and ‘blanched’; a bookshelf whose resident fiction genre now comprises the minority; casual one-name references to Gordon, Ina, Jamie as though dinner party acquaintances.  All relatively benign, I am assured. Of course, there are also those points at which one realizes she may have just crossed over … as on the day she is presented with her very own homegrown pineapple.

A little odd-sounding? Sure. Though quite honestly, it is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received – a labor of love meticulously nurtured, sustained and defended against insect and other would-be assassins, given for no other reason than to share the delight of finally ripened fruit with a girl who’d appreciate it most.

In truth, the pineapple itself was little bigger than a softball (don’t let the clever camera angle fool you), nearly toppled by the crest of spiky green leaves sprouting from its top. I was also warned it would probably not be very sweet, since the plant was a first-generation transplant experiment of sorts, brought back from a recent visit to South America – to which I scoffed that it would be the best-tasting fruit ever eaten (and if not, I would certainly find a way to make it so).  I thanked my friend and promptly took it home to ripen on my countertop, a process that ended up taking about two weeks for the fruit to turn a warm honey color and to give off any sort of scent beyond the raw, pulpy smell of its cut stem.

I finally decided last night would be the occasion to see what my pineapple was made of. As I cut through the rough shell, I imagined how perfectly sweet the fruit would be, intense with the subtle tang that makes your tongue feel slightly fizzy at its tip.

In fact, it wasn’t. The flavor was fairly dull and still a bit green (I have high hopes for a pineapple salsa to top grilled mahi later this week). However, it did nothing to take away from the significance of my little gift and the generosity of a good friend. To whom I say a very sincere “Mahalo!”

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To Market, To Market

August 2, 2009
Which is why I am only too eager to pull myself out of bed on a Saturday, hours before any other rational twentysomething, while the morning is still cool and quiet: The Farmer’s Market. There are plenty of early regulars like me, clutching carafes of hot coffee as we sleepily meander through aisles of garden blooms, fresh produce, local vendors. Some, like Rose Marie the baguette lady, know me by name. There’s the bagel bakery, dried fruit stand, french pastry chefs, honey harvesters; the cheese people and citrus farmers are regular stops, too, even if only for samples.
And while the cherry scones are to die for, my favorite part of this Saturday tradition is the atmosphere itself – the small-town-without-pretense simplicity of a stroll in the park, happy dogs on leashes, tee shirts and sweats, friendly greetings of acquaintance. As the crowd begins to fill in, I’ll take my little breakfast to a bench in the rose garden or wander the avenue in a sort of dreamy haze,

One of the necessary results of spending 40+ hours living in a greenish, office fluorescent tint is the acute realization of free time – every moment being so precious that my body has physically adapted to a sense of urgency. Carpe-the-Diem! Which is why I am only too eager to pull myself out of bed on a Saturday, hours before any other rational twentysomething, while the morning is still cool and quiet: The Farmer’s Market.

There are plenty of early regulars like me, clutching carafes of hot coffee as we sleepily meander through aisles of garden blooms, fresh produce, local vendors. Though, I must admit to a sense of elitist camaraderie with this group, the privileged few to share in what feels to be an incredible secret. The rest of the world will soon wake and begin the rush of their weekend tasks; but for now, my biggest effort involves trying to decide how best to spend the $10 bill I’ve allotted myself ($20 quickly proving a wallet hazard). Rose Marie the baguette lady, who knows me by name, is far too easy and I’m a sucker for her kalamata olive bread and perfectly dense scones. Then there’s the bagel bakery, dried fruit and nut stand, french pastry chefs, honey harvesters; the cheese people for reggiano or romano and citrus farmers for sugar-sweet red grapefruit are regular stops, too. I have yet to succumb to the bags of freshly popped kettle corn or the candy-covered apples, knowing it will be impossible to skip over on my subsequent visits. I will, however, shamelessly accept numerous samples.

And while my freshly bought cherry scones are to die for, the favorite part of this Saturday tradition is the atmosphere itself – the small-town-without-pretense simplicity of a stroll in the park, happy dogs on leashes, tee shirts and sweats, friendly greetings of acquaintance. As the crowd begins to fill in, I’ll take my little breakfast to a bench in the rose garden or wander the avenue in a sort of dreamy haze, knowing there is no better place to be.